In The Kitchen

The REFB Kitchen Collective Program transforms donated ingredients into complex, nutritious, seasonal entrées for low-income seniors and families throughout Sonoma County. Under the leadership of our creative chef, Don Nolan, several groups of dedicated volunteers gather Monday through Friday to combine fresh produce, staple foods, proteins and whole grains, to create wholesome and delicious heat-and-serve meals for our low-income neighbors in need.

Kitchen Collective entrées help alleviate the challenges associated with preparing a healthy meal for those who have limited resources, disabilities, illness, lack of knowledge or understanding, or time or energy constraints due to overwhelming life circumstances.

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This month, Chef Don and his team of volunteer sous chefs are preparing French onion strata, a savory bread pudding!








French Onion Strata

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing baking dish
  • 3 large onions (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 caup dry white wine
  • 1 large Italian or French bread loaf (about 1 pound) cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups half and half or whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese or any cheese on hand
  1. For the Caramelized Onions: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, then add onions, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, until onions have softened, about 10 minutes. Remove lid and cook, stirring frequently and keeping skillet uncovered, until onions are deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes; if onions threaten to burn at any point, stir in a tablespoon or two of water as needed, and/or lower heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook 1 minute longer. Cook until liquid has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, for the Strata: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spread bread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

    Bake until bread is dry but not browned, about 8 minutes.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half or milk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Add dried bread and let soak in custard for at least 15 minutes and up to 3 minutes.

  4. Butter a 12-inch cast iron skillet or a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and add half of bread. Scatter half of caramelized onions and half of cheese all over. Layer remaining bread on top and scatter remaining onions and cheese over.Drizzle any remaining custard all over, then bake until bread is crisp and custard is just set, about 35 minutes.

  5. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Chef’s Recipe Box

Find archived recipes here!

Interested in volunteering in the Kitchen Collective?

Click here to sign up!

Need food?

Call Food Connections at the REFB to find a distribution site in your community: 707-523-7903,
Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.

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